By Duncan Mackay in Vancouver

February 27 - Canada could make history here tomorrow if they beat the United States in the final of the ice hockey, which would be their 14th gold medal of the Olympics, the most ever won by a country in a single Games.

The victory of Kevin Martin and the curling team took their total to 13 as they beat Norway 6-3 in the final of an event that Britain were the pre-tournament favourites but failed to reach even the semi-final.

In terms of gold medals alone, the total gives Canada the record for most gold medals claimed by a host nation at its own Winter Games - previously 10, won by the United States in Salt Lake City in 2002 and by Norway in Lillehammer in 1994.

Ten was also Canada’s own benchmark for most golds claimed at an Olympics, Summer or Winter, established in Los Angeles in 1984.

Canada now shares the all-time biggest crop of gold medals for any country in a Winter Olympics with Norway in 2002 and the Soviet Union in 1976.

The curling medal was the fourth of the day for Canada, and the third gold, following back-to-back wins in men’s speed skating and the men’s snowboard parallel giant slalom, where snowboarder Jasey-Jay Anderson triumphed.

At the speed skating oval, the Canadians led the entire way in a tight team pursuit race with the United States, holding on to extract a measure of retribution for the defeat last night of their women in the same discipline.

Moments after the speed skaters took their victory lap, Anderson, 34, rocketed down the fog-shrouded slalom course at Cypress Mountain to edge Benjamin Karl of Austria in the parallel giant slalom.

In terms of the Vancouver Games, Canada - forced to concede earlier this week that its bid to lead the overall medals count would not succeed - now finds itself leading the gold rush, with Germany next with 10 and the US with nine.

Canada has also won seven silver and five bronze medals - one of the latter coming today in the four-man bobsled - for a total of 25, behind the US with 36 and Germany with 29.

Just as they did at the Summer Olympics in Beijing two years ago, the US are claiming top spot because they have won the most medals but most media organisations show Canada at the top.

The US tally was boosted today by an historic victory in the four-man bobsleigh when Steven Holcomb's crew beat Germany to claim America's first victory in the event since 1948 in St Moritz.

Holcomb said: "It'll take a little while to sink in.

"You work so hard to get somewhere and you finally get there and you're kinda like, 'Now what?

"'I don't know what to do.'

These guys have been training so hard and working so hard for pretty much the last four years.

"To finally end on a high note like this is huge."

But, overall, this was Canada's day.

Chris Rudge, the chief executive of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), said: "I think once you see our final numbers, the number of golds and silvers is going to be exceptional compared to where we historically have been.

"This is something we’ll have to understand.

"Why did it happen?"

Canada has won more gold medals in Vancouver than in any Winter or Summer Games.

Canadians picked up 10 gold at the 1984 Summer Games, which were boycotted by a number of countries.

In Winter Games, the previous high was seven, in both 2002 and 2006.

But Canadians would probably trade all 13 gold medals they have won so far for the chance to triumph in today's ice hockey final, where they will be seeking revenge for their 5-3 defeat to US last Sunday in a preliminary match.

Tickets are selling for up to $7,000 (£4,368) as the country becomes gripped by the excitement of the match, which will see the last gold medal of the Games to be awarded before the Closing Ceremony in BC Place.

Vancouver 2010 spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade revealed that the match was already heavily over-subscribed even before the dream Canada versus US final came to fruition.

She said: "When we put the gold medal hockey tickets on sale two years ago, we could have filled Canada Hockey Place 18 times over based on the demand."

Some of the prized tickets are already up for auction on the Vancouver Winter Games official website, although organisers put a mark-up limit of 10 times the face value for any fan-to-fan Internet sales.

Nevertheless, with seats going to $775 (£436), $550 (£343) and $350 (£218) at the start, resale prices are set to soar before the puck drops.

This marked the first time an Olympics organising group had set up a resale site for those who purchased seats but cannot use them or want to make a profit.

Mark Adams, the spokesman for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), defended the idea.

He said: "Nobody is being forced to buy tickets they don't want."

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